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How SEO Is Like Chess: Strategy and Planning

By Shawn Rosko

Feb 25, 2021

About 15 minutes

One of the most important things in both games (yes, SEO is like a game) is planning out your strategy from the very beginning of the campaign. Planning accordingly and thinking ahead is all part of the strategy. You need to have a couple of different plans depending on what is working and what is not. 

When something is not going as you planned, you need to think fast and change the approach. Making quick decisions is necessary. In both chess and SEO, you may sometimes have to completely reverse your game plan at any given minute, which is why a good game of chess can be lengthy, and any successful SEO game can also take a while.  

Chess Strategy
Let’s look at the different elements of SEO and see which piece on a chessboard they represent. 


Jump the Competition with Long-Tail Keywords

One of the sneakiest pieces on the board is the Knight, and the Knight can have a huge impact quickly. In SEO, the Knight would be the equivalent to sneaking long-tail keywords into your content, and long-tail keywords allow you to target multiple short-tail keywords in one shot. RankBrain (Google’s machine learning algorithm) can pick apart these long-tails, and because of this, it may see a short-tail keyword within the first and last words of a long-tail. This makes long-tails key to your game.  


Site Speed Keeps the Game Going

The Rook can run the entirety of the chessboard in straight lines, both horizontal and vertical, which can sometimes help you achieve a desired result fast. The Rook is equivalent to site speed, which goes hand in hand with UX and overall usability. Users do not like slow websites, and if it is too slow, they will bounce from the site faster than they got there. 

TSL Marketing B2B technology marketing“With SEO, it is also a good thing to try to stay looking ahead so you can (possibly) get an idea of what changes we may see moving forward in search.TSL Marketing B2B technology marketing

The Rook also looks ahead as it moves either way across the board, and with SEO, it is also a good thing to try to stay looking ahead so you can (possibly) get an idea of what changes we may see moving forward in search. There are always numerous theories you can read in blog posts from many of the worlds top SEO experts, and a lot of these theories are based on new patents that Google has recently filed for. 


Backlinks Help You Stay Relevant

Another shared trait is the use of Pawns (all the little things), which in many cases can help with little things that may seem menial at times but can be very important as well. In SEO, I would consider backlinks as the Pawn. Gaining quality backlinks is important for all websites, and many times you will not notice new backlinks you or your competition are getting. It is always good to keep an eye on your links and your competitors, but it is not something you can do constantly. Just like a Pawn, some great authority links can sneak in without you noticing and can have a big impact on the game quickly; much like the Pawn that often gets overlooked. 


Algorithm Updates Are All Over the Board

Another piece on the chessboard is the Bishop, and the Bishop is another piece that can run the board quickly, but they can only move diagonally on the color they began on. Bishops will come at you from different angles, just like the search engines will when there is a new algorithm update. When an algorithm update happens, it takes a bit of time to see how it will affect your site, or a clients site, so you always need to be on guard, in SEO and chess.

King and Queen

Checkmate with Great Website Content

Website Checkmate
SEO and chess both have a King (and a Queen). While many SEO folks say, ‘Content is King, others (like me) always say that a fast and well-optimized website is King. High-quality, unique content is the Queen and is just as important as the King. Both are necessary for a solid SEO strategy. 


Laying the Foundation for an Optimized SEO Strategy

Every strategy you use will result in the endgame of discovering a perfect high-performing industry keyword. In SEO, however, your ideal keywords will always be changing, dependent on industry trends and new audience members. Ongoing research is required to track what’s reaching the top of SERP at any given time. Of course, there are other areas you can target that will complement your keyword strategy. 

When executing your SEO strategy, practice makes perfect, and along the way, you’ll learn how to adjust your game to achieve success. 

If you need help increasing the number of quality visitors to your website, sign up for a free B2B SEO website assessment. Our experts will show you how to attract more B2B buyers to your site and convert your visitors into leads and sales. 


Tags: SEO, SEO strategy, longtail keywords, search engines, SEO keywords, website speed, backlinks, website content, Algorithm Updates